Top 6 People you'll rub elbows with in the Dubai Metro

By: Malaya Sta. Maria

Once you step in a cabin of the Dubai Metro, a driverless fully automated metro rail network of the city, you'll think that you have entered the United Colors of Dubai Metro. If you aren't aware of what Emeratis look like – the locals of the city, you'll never guess who they are among the crowd. Let's dissect the 'multicolored' town of Dubai, how and where to spot them. Here are the top 6 nationalities from the least number to the largest.

  1. Europeans

    If you see a person lying unconscious on the sidewalk at around 8 in the evening on a friday, he/she's probably a European. Here in Dubai, they are mostly British and French. You see some of them unconscious on the ground, or some swaying back and forth as they walk, or others throwing up at side streets somewhere because at that early of the night, they're already too drunk too get home safely from a brunch.

    If you love sushis, lobsters, tacos, kebabs, steaks, mongolian BBQs and a lot of other cuisines to munch in one go, you have to try the brunches here. Dubai is filled with restos offering brunches on the weekends, which from this side of the globe, it's a Friday and a Saturday. What's great about these brunches is that they serve alcoholic drinks and starts at around 2pm. And who are most likely to be present at these brunches? Europeans. I'm guessing food is not the main event of their weekend affair in these places, but the booze is. Since it's not easy to grab a hold of those six packs or bottles of the reds and the whites and some tequila shots, unless you have a license, brunches are a sellout to these Europeans. Yes, if you want to buy alcoholic beverages at a local liquor store, one must have a license to buy.

    Bars and pubs are another of their favorite hangout places, which are scarce here for sure, compared to their home country, but they are jam packed almost every night as well. No worries getting home by sunrise 'cause establishments closes by 2am. No extensions or they’ll drag your European butts out!

  2. Other Arabic-speaking nationals

    If you hear the phrases such as "what to do yaaniy," "sabah el kheir," "shukran," it's not always the locals of Dubai who say these. Other Arabic-speaking nationals from nearby countries come and work here too. They are mostly from, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. What's common with these people is their love for shishas. For those who are not familiar with shishas, shishas are water glass pipes used for smoking tobacco, kinda like a bong. They are colorfully decorated and in different sizes. There are small cute ones too if you want something for your home to use, or maybe just for decorations, get one if you are really that a fanatic. But if you don't have one at home and want to puff one of these, just go to any Arabic restaurants and cafes, surely it's on the menu and in variety of flavors. From the popular apple, mint, strawberry, apricot, grape and more. You'll definitely see those Arabic-speaking nationals puffing their hearts out at those establishments.

    Smoking shishas for them has been an essential part of their night outs and social gathering especially in Ramadan. Some smoke these four times a week. Maybe not smoked with a cup of Joe, but if you smoke it for an hour, most likely you've puffed fifty cigarettes at a time! If you're a newbie shisha smoker, don't show off and smoke too much in one sitting. Don't be that magic dragon puffing so deep in your lungs 'cause it can make your head spin and be tipsy and in topsy-turvy. I'm not sure if smoking nicotine-free tobacco makes people safe from any smoking related illnesses, but soon, nicotine-free shishas will be available in the UAE. So huff and puff away!

  3. Chinese

    There is no Chinatown in Dubai. Surprised? Well, me too. I thought all countries has their own little Chinatown. Like, if you need a fix of some herbal teas, spring rolls, lucky charms, kung fu... all you need to do is rush into Chinatown. And voila! Or should I say, hai-ya! It's like being transported to China. Even with no Chinatown, still, a number of Chinese roam the streets of the city.

    The closest to a Chinatown here in Dubai that anyone can get to is a prominent establishment where you may see Chinese people loitering around - the DragonMart shopping mall. Chinese people have been long settlers in other parts of the world and are famous traders since the ancient times. In Dubai, DragonMart is where they conduct their trades today. Here you can purchase products in retail or in wholesale for a reasonable price specially if you are on a budget. Maybe Chinatown is non-existent to this city, but China products will never run out of stocks here or anywhere that's for sure.

  4. Filipinos

    Like the Chinese, Filipinos are almost everywhere around the globe. Dubai is one of the cities they conglomerate. If you see a group of people just about the height of your armpits, probably they are Filipinos. You can see them almost in any place within the city, either working or at leisure. One prominent place that you’ll find them is at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bur Dubai. You don't want to be near that church at Christmas season if you don't want to be mobbed. Aside from being regular churchgoers, they also love to get-together often and in places such as the parks, malls, and in their own homes. In such gatherings, food is always present. They love to cook as well as eat. If you hear someone in your building belting out a song like Celine Dion or how Whitney Houston does it, then you have a Filipino neighbor having Karaoke nights.

    The areas in Dubai where most Filipinos live are in Al Karama, Al Satwa, Bur Dubai and Deira. These areas are mostly with low-rise residential buildings and also the heart of the City. Old historic places can be found here as well, such as Bastakiya in Bur Dubai, which is a wonderful heritage site. The famous Dubai Clocktower, one of the earliest architectural projects in the city, can also be found in Deira. It sits at the center of a roundabout, which is an access point to all major routes in Dubai. All of these are must-see attractions if you'll be traveling to Dubai.

  5. Emiratis

    Definitely the minority. But even so, you can easily spot them in a crowd. They are just black and white. No, I'm not talking about their skin color. I'm talking about their day-to-day attire. The city having residents with different skin colors, shapes and sizes, traditional clothing of different cultures and religions are also visible in the streets, decorating the bland ambiance of the dessert. And the Emiratis have their own. White for the men and black for the women. They weren't playful with colors unlike the others though, but they do stand out the crowd. Each pair of husbands and wives are just like walking salt and pepper shakers with their outfits.

    Thawb or Dishdasha or Kandura is what they call their traditional dress for the men, and Abaya for the women. Both are ankle-length cloaks and they pair it with a headdress. A big headscarf for the men usually white in color and sometimes with a white and red checkered pattern that is called a Guthra. To secure this Guthra on the head, a black whip-like rope called Egal is tied around the head. The Egal has a double purpose in the olden times where they also use it to tie a camel's feet during the night to secure them and to prevent them from wandering or getting lost during their travels. But the resemblance of the rope to a whip makes me think of scary and bad images about Emirati marriages. What?!?! Kinky thoughts?!?! You should be ashamed of yourselves...

    Hmmm... well... come to think of it, the Abayas on the other hand are black long flowing gowns for the ladies which are usually sheer fabrics... So if it works for the gentlemen... Remember the movie "Sex and the City 2?" Ok, ok, your imaginations are already running wild... So to put a stop to this not so wholesome images in your head... Imagine them with a Shela or Gishwa, a black cloth placed over their heads usually a veil like cloth as cover for the hair or the entire head and face. But that's not what's interesting part of the getup. For the older generations, they prefer the Burqa instead of the Shela or Gishwa alone. The Burqa is a two-piece ensemble. It consists of a Shela or Gishwa but with a slit for the eyes leaving it uncovered, and a metal object placed on the face like a mask as an accessory. The metal mask is... a girl thang...

    While they smoke shishas too and hangout at restaurants and cafes, they can also be spotted working commonly in government agencies or in banks alone.

  6. Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Indians

    Ever see two men hold hands? Yes I know, in some countries, they not only hold hands but kiss on the lips. But here in Dubai, men do hold hands. Indian men do. They are not in a relationship, not being more than friends or anything. It's just their thing.

    Pakistanis on the other hand, they love the grassy area of Dubai. You'll see them lounge and they are in groups sitting around chilling on the limited grassy patches in Dubai. Maybe because they really miss the greenery of their country. I don't blame them, because Dubai is really just pure sand, that's it and nothing more. It is called the desert after all.

    Bangladeshis however are... well... they... uhmm... I can't tell them apart from the two, somehow their countries being geographically adjacent to each other, maybe they come from a single race, a single blood line. Language doesn't differ much from each other too. But the Bangladeshis, they are also scattered all around Dubai.

    Their favorite sport is Cricket. It is one of the things they have in common and they're enthusiastic about. A bat-and-ball game with two teams playing against each other like a baseball game. They so love the game that even in a scorching heat of day they play it outdoors. They play it on sand too. So if you see people playing the game, they are either of the three nationals.

    Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are just runner ups. Indians are way too far many even when the two combined. Maybe even when we sum up the whole population of Dubai who are non-Indians, they will still have the biggest number of residents in the city. Indians too are EVERYWHERE around the globe. And in Dubai, you will mistake them as the locals of the city, that's how many they are here. These three nationals are the manpower of Dubai. Whether it's blue collar jobs or white collar jobs, they are here, there, and everywhere!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingMalaya Sta. Maria is a Filipino expat living in United Arab Emirates. Blog description: just like a booger flicked into the world
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